عنوان مقاله [English]
Notable in the assemblage of small finds from Valiran are seven coins recovered in the Parthian cemetery and eight others coming from the Sasanian structure at the site. Since the Parthian and Sasanian coins bear assorted inscriptions and representations, their examination may furnish indispensable information on royal names and their portraits, the minting places, titles and honorifics, religion, and generally lead to a purified chronology. The present work represents a qualitative study relying on field excavations and library research and also benefits from the knowledge of ancient languages in order to find answers to such questions as: In the reigns of which Parthian and Sasanian kings did the Parthian cemetery and the Sasanian fort were in use, and for how long? And, what are the characteristics and stylistic attributions of the discovered coinage? The results of the numismatic analysis show that the Parthians used the Veliran cemetery to bury their dead for about a century, spanning the reigns of Mithridates II and Orodes I, and after a hiatus of some 500 years, the Sasanians settled the site in the times of Khosrow I by constructing there a fort.
Keywords: Coinage, Parthian, Sasanian, Veliran, Damavand.
Among the major finds excavated from the archaeological site of Veliran in Damavand are a few coins, study of which will play a prominent role in providing answers to the outstanding questions regarding the region in these two periods. The available, in particular the Sasanian, coins display various inscriptions and representations, which are of high potential for providing information on the royal names and their portraits, the minting places, titles and honorifics, religion and on the whole an improved chronology.
Research Question and Hypotheses
The present study is a qualitative work, and building on library and field researches and the knowledge of early languages, seeks to provide answers to the questions: Under which Parthian and Sasanian kings and for how long did the Parthian cemetery and the Sasanian fort were used? What are the characteristics of the discovered coinage and their stylistic affiliations? Our results suggest that the Parthians used the Veliran cemetery to inter their deceased for about a century, which spanned the reigns of Mithridates II and Orodes I, before it was abandoned in the late 1st century BC. Following a hiatus that lasted for about half a century, the Sasanians would reuse the site by putting up a fort there during the reign of Khosrow I. The Parthian coinage features the portraits of related kings on the obverse and a figure sitting on stool surrounded by an inscription on the reverse; in the Sasanian instances we find portraits of royals associated with inscriptions on the obverse, and a central altar flanked by a standing figure on both sides, all framed by an inscription in Sasanian Pahlavi on the reverse.
Texts on the Coinage from Veliran
The coins dating to the Parthian period were recovered within a catacomb of pit grave type in the eastern quadrant of the site (Ne’mati 2012, 107). The entire space of the grave produced seven coins, all being silver drachmas. Drachma represented the most common coin in the period and was produced in mint houses across the empire, weighing about 4 g (Sarfaraz 2009, 30).
Three coins of Mithridates III (Sellwood 1980, 124) lay under the neck of the skeleton on the eastern platform. Three coins of Phraates III (ibid, 119) were mixed with other objects and the remains of the flexed burial to the northeast of the east platform; three coins of Mithridates II (ibid, 73) were within the ossuary cut into the natural wall of the grave. Three coins of Mithridates III (ibid, 119) were found next to the first skeleton buried on the west platform A single coin of Orodes I (ibid, 91) was next to Skeleton 2. A single coin of Orodes II lay by Skelton 3. And a single coin of Mithridates II (ibid, 84) was associated with Skeleton 4 next to the natural wall of the grave.
The easternmost part of the Veliran fort, which overlays the Parthian cemetery, yielded eight coins from the Sasanian period, six belonging to Khosrau II, one to Khosrau I, and one to Hormizd IV.
On the obverse of the Sasanian coins, there is, within two circular pearl inlayed panels, the portrait of a king in profile and facing right, in front and behind of which are inscriptions in Pahlavi. Outside the circular panel on the three right, left and down sides, and also at the center of the wings of the crown, representations of moon and star exist. On the reverse, within a series of three circular pearl inlayed panels, two branch holding attendants stand next to the altar, with the representations of moon and star on the four sides of the perimeter. Within the panel to the right and left sides of the attendants, the minting date and place are attested.
The coinage recovered from the catacomb grave dating to the Parthian period at Veliran represents 5 Parthian kings, viz. Mithridates II, Phraates III (70-85/57 BC), Mithridates III (57-54 BC), Orodes I (90-80 BC) and Orodes II (57-38 BC). The earliest instances belong to Mithridates II, who ruled between 123-88 BC, while the latest represent Orodes II, reigning from 57 to 37 BC. The coins alongside the associated burial gifts within the catacomb grave reflect the social status of the grave owner. In the Damavand region, people of higher status interred their deceased in such catacombs together with elite objects. Based on the available coins, the cemetery of Veliran was in use between 123-37 BC, for about a century. The earliest coin unearthed from the Sasanian deposits, belongs to the 16th year of Khosrau I’ reign (546/547 AD) and was minted in Abarshahr. From the 7th year of Hormizd IV rule (585/586 AD) was recovered a coin minted in Yazd. From the rule of Khosrau I (591-928 AD) there are 6 coins relating to the 2nd year of the reign (592/593 AD) minted in Yazd, the 15th year of the reign (606/607 AD) minted in Susa, the 25th year of the reign (616/617 AD) minted in Mishan, the 28th year (619/620 AD) minted in Bactria, the 31st year of the reign (622/623 AD) minted in Shiraz, and the 35th year of the reign (626/627 AD) minted in Ardashir-Khwarrah.
On the basis of these coins, the site of Veliran was resettled, after 500 years of abandonment, in the Sasanian period, at least at the times of Khosrau I, and the Sasanian fort built there would flourish at least as late as the late Sasanian period. The most striking point about these coins is that the mining places are not the same in particular in those belonging to Khosrau II, and they were variously minted in south, central, east, and northeast Iran. Discovery of the coinage with diverse mintage places evince to the direct contacts of Damavand with the minting cities. Given the function the structure at Veliran served in the Sasanian period, the recovered coins would have arrived there in connection with goods imported from different regions of Iran as part of trade activities.